In public safety news, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), David Strickland, said yesterday that the proportion of complaints against Toyota vehicles, when compared with other automakers, was “unremarkable.” Strickland also said that until the agency finds a specific cause of vehicle defect, they have little recourse. Strickland will probably face criticism about what the NHTSA should have done about years of complaints about Toyotas, and how it should handle further complaints when he testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. Strickland’s testimony will mark the fourth congressional hearing about Toyota defects. Former NHTSA head Joan Claybrook, who will also testify today, will argue that more needs to be done to protect drivers.
Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower, reviews the new book by Harry Markpolos, the man who tried to blow the whistle on Bernie Madoff, but failed when the Securities and Exchange Commission refused to listen to him.
In climate science news, the United Nations is calling in top scientists to develop better quality controls on the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), following controversy stemming from a mistake in the panel’s 2007 report concerning the melting rates of Himalayan glaciers. However, the head of the IPCC made it clear that the review will not re-examine the scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change.
Also, this Washington Post masthead editorial argues that, in the wake of the Basic Food Flavors recall of a flavor additive, the Senate should pass the Food Safety Enhancement Act, which was already passed by the House. The act includes many common sense measures, including requiring companies to create and execute food safety plans and giving the FDA the power to require product recalls.
Lastly, Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said they would no longer approve budget earmarks, which allow lawmakers to award financing to for-profit groups and businesses, many of which are campaign donors. They also announced that if the ban had been in place last year, 1,000 awards – many of which went to defense contractors in lawmakers’ home states – worth a total of about $1.7 billion would not have been approved.